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Paynesville Press - November 22, 2006

Township board puts November election on ballot

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors took the following actions at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

*The board approved asking township voters if they wish to move township elections to the general election in November instead of March. This will be a ballot question on the March election this year.

According to attorney Troy Gilchrist of the Minnesota Association of Townships, in a reference article presented to the board, a reason to move township elections to November is to ensure the best possible voter turnout. On the other hand, it can reduce the identity of the township and township candidates can get lost on the long list of candidates in November.

Even if the township elections were moved to November, the township annual meeting would still be held in March each year.

Township officers elected in November would take office in January. As part of the election shift, township supervisors would need to switch from three-year to four-year terms. (The township clerk and treasurer would continue to serve two-year terms and would be up for election in opposite years.)

The terms of current township officers would need to be altered, probably lengthened, if a switch to November elections is approved.

The board designated clerk Don Wiese to put the question of moving township elections to coincide with general elections in November onto the ballot this March.

Supervisors cited the expense of a separate election (Harry Thielen), the inconvenience of having separate township elections (Pat Meagher), and the better turnout (Don Pietsch) as reasons for the change.

*The board continued discussions about garbage collection in the township and set a public hearing to discuss the topic on Monday, Dec. 18, at 8:45 p.m. The board is concerned that some residents are not disposing of their garbage properly: burning garbage is illegal, burying garbage is illegal, and dumping garbage in someone else's dumpster or in the ditch is illegal.

Pietsch, who had been appointed by the board to research the issue, reported that the township does have options, including promoting voluntary garbage service.

West Central Sanitation, by letter, reported that they currently serve 425 households in the township, including 150 with recycling services, too. The board, with an estimated 600 households in the township, does not know how many households do not have garbage service, as they may utilize another vendor for service.

Meagher, who raised this issue in October, continued to press for the township to insure that all residents are disposing of their garbage properly. If efforts to encourage residents to voluntarily have service are used, he asked, would the township accept having 50 households without service? "You're creating garbage," he said. "You should take care of it."

Township maintenance man Mike Jensen said that garbage in the township road ditches is getting worse every year.

Meagher added that people who already have garbage service in the township would probably benefit (with either lower rates or rates at the same level) if all households in the township had garbage service.

The board agreed to hold a public hearing in December to get public input on the issue.

Some alternatives for the township are to levy for garbage service; to require garbage service (which would require the township approving some mechanism for putting overdue garbage bills onto property taxes); and to promote volunteer garbage service through incentives.

Pietsch, after the meeting, said the township also might be able to require every household to have a garbage plan - which would allow residents to show that they had garbage service at their business, for instance - with increased penalties for illegal burning, burying, or dumping of garbage.

*The board held a public hearing for the establishment of a subordinate service district for the new Crow River Heights development. A common septic system is planned for this 10-lot development, along the Crow River in Section 18 of the township. The township will oversee this septic system once it is in place and needs to establish a subordinate district in order to tax these ten lot owners for the maintenance costs of the system and future replacement costs.

The township involvement will start on Jan. 1, 2008, after a one-year warranty for the system elapses.

Of the costs for the system, $22,750 have been determined to have a 20-year life expectancy and $68,250 have a 50-year life expectancy. This results to a $113.75 and $136.50 charge per year per lot for these replacement costs. Maintenance costs, including pumping and monitoring, have been set at $100 per year (with undeveloped lots getting a $50 discount since their tank will not need to be pumped). This totals an assessment of $350.25 per year, which will need to be reviewed annually to insure that all costs for the project are covered by the benefitting properties.

A key part of the project, said Dave Voss, whose company will be installing the septic system, is to educate homeowners about what can be safely handled by it and what cannot, in order to insure that it lasts a long time.

The board extended the public hearing to their next meeting on Monday, Dec. 18, because the development has some new property owners who could not be informed of this public hearing in time. This will give them a chance to express their opinions of the project before the board takes action.

*The board tabled a proposed agreement with the Stearns County Assessor's Office and directed clerk Don Wiese to research the agreement and fees, which rose to $344 per day. Since other government entities also collect property tax dollars in the township, the board questioned why they alone had to pay for the assessment of property.

*The board set a public hearing for Monday, Dec. 18, at 8:30 p.m. for Marty Frank, who wants to rezone his property (except for a 300-foot swath along 185th Avenue that will remain T-20) from Transition-20 to Ag-40.

*The board approved overlaying Cherrywood Road, to be done in conjunction with the trail project or with the new deveploment. The township had received two quotes for the project, including a $48 per ton quote by Duinick Brothers for asphalt, to be done either this fall or next spring. The road was overdue for an overlay, the board concluded, with the township wanting to wait until construction was done.

With asphalt rates expected to continue to rise, the board concluded this was a good deal. The township might not need much other asphalt overlay next year, said chairman Don Pietsch.

*The board approved Paul Bugbee's plans to build a lodge at Bugbee Hive Resort, replacing a maintenance shed. This addition was part of his planned unit development, established in 2003 and approved by the township board.

The board also expressed verbal support for Bugbee to construct a new maintenance shed on Crestridge Road, for which the board had previously approved a variance. Bugbee said he might try and pursue that project, which he agreed would be a good addition, next spring.

*The board approved a variance for James and Marjorie Hess to build an addition at their residence on Breezewood Road. The 12' by 16' addition will not be any closer to Breezewood Road or to a private easement driveway running behind the house, but the existing structure already does not meet setback requirements. The residence is 59 feet from the center of Breezewood Road (necessitating a variance of four feet) and is 10 feet from the center of a private easement driveway (necessitating a variance of 53 feet). *The board reviewed its hiring of election judges, following a verbal complaint, with the supervisors concluding that Wiese had followed proper procedures.

*The board approved purchasing tickets for the Chamber holiday breakfast on Sunday, Nov. 19.

*The board's next meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 18, at 8 p.m. (The board is now on its winter meeting schedule.)

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